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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

The death of President Kennedy shocks the nation

In November of 1963 I was at work when I heard form my boss that President Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. It gave me the cold chills when I heard about it. The President of the United States was murdered in his own country. I never thought in this modern world we lived in that this could happen to a President of the U.S. I felt uncomfortable to know that there were some elements in our country which could destroy our present Government system if they didn't agree with some of the President's policies. President Kennedy became one of these victims.

Lu Lu admired President Kennedy, and the day of his funeral she spent most of the day in Washington D.C. following his funeral service. She walked along the funeral route as far as Arlington cemetery. She told me that following his funeral route she shed many tears. This was a very upsetting time for many American people. I wasn't able to go and watch the funeral parade as I had to be at work all day, but for days I clung to the TV to see all the latest news about the death of President Kennedy. For weeks it was all that people talked about, and for many people it was a day in their lives they will never forget.

President Kennedy in the tragic motorcade 

When Lu Lu and I first met it was seldom that we would meet other Burmese people. There were just not that many Burmese around. I always wanted Lu Lu to meet some of her own people. So wherever we went I was always looking for an Asian who was wearing a "longyis". That is a traditional skirt a Burmese woman wears. One day Lu Lu and I went to Chinatown in Washington D.C. to do some shopping. As I was waiting in my parked car for Lu Lu to come out of the store, I noticed a Burmese lady accompanied by an Asian man going into one of the Chinese shops. When Lu Lu came out of the store I told her about it. We waited in our car until they came out of the store.

After we had met we became very good friends, and Jimmy and Ruby became our closest friends. Ruby was working as a hairdresser and Jimmy was a navy Commander in the Burmese navy. Jimmy came here as a student and was studying at the Georgetown University for his masters degree in economics in International relations. He was sent by the Burmese Government with all of his expenses paid. Jimmy had a wife and four children in Burma. Ruby who was separated from her husband was very good friends with Jimmy. Jimmy and I became close friends right away. At that time I was going to night school and had a lot of problems with my homework. Most of the time, I was stuck with the English language. Jimmy was such a good friend that he helped me so many times that I would pass the course.

Jimmy associated with many people of the Burmese Embassy staff. Because of his position in the Burmese navy he was well known by all of the Embassy staff. Most of Jimmy's family in Burma belonged to the upper class in society. Jimmy was very fond of going to the horse races. He told me that his brother-in-law owned his own horse stables in Rangoon.

Jimmy was a compulsive gambler and I quickly found out that he couldn't stay away from the horse race tracks around the Washington D.C. area. We went to every horse race track around. Jimmy always thought that he could get rich from horse races. But it was something so bad that Jimmy needed some of my money to balance his checking account. Jimmy was a very honest person, whatever he took from me financially, he would always pay back. Ruby herself was a good hearted soul and has helped Jimmy in so many ways when they were friends together.

One day one of our Burmese friends told Lu Lu that at the Catholic University in the language research department they were looking for somebody who could speak Karen. At that time I think Lu Lu was the only Karen in the Washington D.C. area. The Karens are a minority group of people who live mostly in the hilly parts of Burma. They speak a dialect which is not understood by most Burmese people. The Catholic University needed Lu Lu badly as they had several students from the State Department who wanted to learn Karen. Lu Lu at that time was working for Dr. Camalier, but they were very cooperative to let Lu Lu take the job. Lu Lu worked under a contract business teaching Karen. The whole staff of the language research department was delighted to have Lu Lu on their staff. Not only would Lu Lu teach them the language, but every day she would cook a different Burmese dish for them and take it to class. She was paid very well, but every check she received was spent faster than she made it. Money never had any value for Lu Lu. The more she was getting the more she was sharing it with her friends. Sometimes she would take the whole staff, students including the professors to her apartment and give them a feast of lunch. Sometimes I would call from work and then I heard all that noise in the background, and when I asked her what was going on she told me that she had invited all of her school friends. She even became very friendly with one of the teachers who came from Zaire. Her husband was the consular in the Zaire Embassy.

CONTINUED: Diplomatic parties at the Burmese Embassy
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index